The cry that came in from the cold

By Steve Kimian


Salon Staff
July 21, 2000 11:56PM (UTC)

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While some of the substance of the article is accurate (the plethora of agencies, many of which have dubious motives for entering the adoption pursuit), it also brushes with too broad a stroke, condemning families, agencies and government alike for abuses in Russian adoptions. As a co-founder of the largest, most vibrant Web site and set of mailing lists devoted to Eastern European Adoption, I am highly involved with monitoring activities and know that for hundreds of children and families, Russian adoption has not involved the graft, greed and corruption that the author assumes. The new law is already progressing, with agencies moving quickly along accreditation lines, and the result will be a more ethical and standard route to forever families.

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-- Beth M. Waggenspack

I was very disappointed to read your story on adopting in Russia. Based on my personal experience as a two-time adopter from Ukraine and avid reader of adoption-related issues for the past four years, I found the tone and examples presented by the author to be slanted against the entire process. Far too often in the article, we received pure speculation (and of the negative sort) rather than solid reporting. Just to take examples from the article, if there were 4,348 Russian kids adopted in 1999, why did the author have to reach back to an adoption from 1996 to a single person's experience on costs for adopting? Surely there had to be a more recent case that made his argument, or was that just the one most convenient for him? In the example's agency's fee of $15,000 for their work in the U.S. (I believe those employees are here, not in Russia, and have to pay our cost of living), the family received counseling, advice and guidance over a six-month period as well as guidance in Russia for a process bewildering to one who hasn't done it before. And this compares very favorably to the $50,000 to $100,000 cost of a private adoption in the U.S.

Yes, foreign adoption is difficult and can be expensive (and can be done much more cheaply). But, for U.S. families who are not considered "suitable" for public adoption, or who don't want to subject themselves to the vagaries of fostering and the U.S. courts' reliance on the rights of biological parents, or who don't have the resources for private adoption, foreign adoption provides the best (and in our case, a most wonderful) chance for children.

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If anyone is interested in finding out resources on Eastern European adoption, I recommend Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption or the alt-parent-Russia user group (www.eeadopt.org).

-- Art Smith


Salon Staff

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